tv [untitled] May 12, 2012 11:00pm-11:30pm EDT
and aunt mary dimes, who handed this photograph to john washington in the 1930s when he was interviewing her, mary dimes was in the camp. she was the songbird of the camp. she told john washington that when this photograph was taken they were in preparation for the president coming to their camp. and the president came that day and he instead of going to the podium where -- the platform they had set up for him, he goes over and stands with the elders. she said they sang "my country 'tis of thee." sweet land of liberty. that was the song, first song they sang. then she sang. she was the songbird of the camp. "nobody knows the trouble i see but jesus." and she said that the president's eyes filled with water as he was moved by the spirit. and after that service, if you will, president lincoln requested that he be brought back without his entourage. and he would come to the camp and aunt mary would sing for him and the camp minister uncle ben
would pray for him during the time lincoln is writing and publishing the emancipation proclamation he's coming here in the greater u street corridor to camp barker where garrison elementary school stands today and praying and being sung to by aunt mary dimes. in that camp there was suffering. these are refugees. these are people running away and they need assistance. an african-american woman born enslaved in virginia, bought her freedom out in st. louis as she began working as a seamstress. not only bought her freedom but bought her son's freedom. she would come to washington from baltimore actually from st. louis to baltimore, then to washington and become a seamstress to the politicians' wives. jeff davis's wife. he was her seamstress. and she would become mary todd lincoln's seamstress. and as mary todd lincoln's seamstress she had the ear of the first lady. and she would ask the first lady to donate to her organization
that she established in 1862 called the contraband relief society and her contraband relief society would attend to the needs of those in the camps here in washington. now, that's one of the first contraband relief societies formed. there would be others formed, and when many in this camp here in washington were moved to freedman's village in arlington heights, another organization would be established nationally called the national freedman's relief society and that society would bring into this camp in arlington, sojourner truth. harriet jacobs, who had become quite nationally known for her memoir, her slave narrative called "incidents in the life of a slave girl." and they would work in this camp and throughout the country, african-american women and women
in general would go to these camps to teach. to attend to the needs of those in the camp. on the home front, there was a need for these relief societies as well. many of the soldiers' families were suffering. and they were suffering in 1863 and through the first half of 1864 because many of them were not accepting any pay at all. so you've got these bread winners that are out fighting that's not bringing any money home. one of the reasons that is in the militia act of 1862 congress actually mandated that they'd receive $10 regular pay. $3 taken away for their uniforms. so the response of the community to this fact is one with the soldiers. they say i'm not going to accept any pay at all. here, corporal payne of the 55th said liberty is what i'm fighting for. i'd fight three years without a dime if liberty is the payment at the other end. so liberty is what i'm fighting
for. but on the home front their families need to be taken care of. there would be organizations, ladies relief societies, colored ladies relief societies in chicago, cleveland, philadelphia. new york, boston. and one of the individuals that would bring in what i'm going to say a lot of money to help the camps was the aretha franklin of that day. elizabeth greenfield, elizabeth taylor greenfield, born in natchez, mississippi 81ulsing fn the 1850s. and she would give concerts and the proceeds of the concerts would go to help these families. so it was a community effort to help these families. also, women would disguise
themselves as men and fight. now, if they were successful and got away with it, we don't know anything about them. but there are women who disguised themselves as men and fought. then there were women who worked as guide scouts and spies. lucy carter has been noted in the virginia theater as one of those guide scouts and spies, but one of the top guide scouts and spies, man or woman, in the civil war was none other than harriet tubman. she would go down to the department of south, sometime in the spring or early summer of 1862. she would go behind enemy lines and establish her relationships. i'm going to refer to it as captain tubman since i did that earlier. and captain tubman in june of 1862 would lead or -- would lead a raid of 300 men from the 1st -- excuse me, from the 2nd south carolina infantry of african descent. she would lead this raid of men,
300 men down the cumbai river. the boston commoner would note it was led by a black woman. they don't say it's harriet tubman in the article, but they talk about how it delivered an effective blow. the -- it's illustrated, they don't mention that it was harriet tubman. they don't mention the woman at all. but they give a report of how successful. over 800 enslaved persons liberated. the rice plantation infrastructure that are destroyed. highly successful raids led by harriet tubman in june of 1863. general quincey gillmore would have his provost marshall refer to her in his request to her paid as a special agent. i'll call her special agent harriet tubman. highly successful raids. on the more let's say administrative side of things, k early on under the direction of martin delany as a recruiting agent. a recruiting agent is kind of hired out by a commission to recruit an officer from the
state. well, in 1864 mary ann shedd carey, her influence over men was so persuasive that she could convince them to enlist and the governor of indiana would commission her as a recruiting officer. she's not simply a recruiting agent. she is a commissioned recruiting officer by the governor of indiana. oliver morton. african-american women would also come to the relief of union soldiers who had been taken as prisoners of war and this prisoner of war camp -- this is a drawing of a prisoner of war camp in south carolina. union soldiers when they escaped from this camp, they immediately were taken in by african-american women. who put them in a safe house and kept them till dark. kept them fed and at dark they provided them a guide.
lieutenant hannibal johnson of maine reports this and they would take them, these women would keep them in these safe houses and they'd take them on a 300-mile journey into knoxville, tennessee and freedom. this was a network that was unknown to many, but of great utility for these soldiers because these african-american women took care of these soldiers and took them to freedom from the prisoner of war camp. general robert e. lee understood that having all of these african-americans, these negroes, in their midst was a problem. having them work for them was a problem. he understood that it was a problem. and he would write to his counterintelligence officer, equivalent to his counterintelligence officer, in may of 1863. quote, "the chief source of information to our enemy comes through our negroes." so he knows where the information is coming from. his solution, however, is that they can be easily deceived with proper precaution. in other words, they're not smart enough. he didn't know about the legal
league. jft like many scholars today don't know about the legal league. it is quite surprising how prolific they were and how intelligent they were. it is something that lee could not deal with. he does not win the intelligence war after the league gets involved in the war. because his army is filled with african-americans. you've got them traveling with the army as man servants. some would even call them confederate soldiers. no, they were confederate slaves. but many were operatives for the union. and african-american women are not only with sometimes the military -- those working in the military they're in the families. they're in the families. even jeff davis's family. in the confederate white house, you have more than one african-american woman working in the confederate white house. in fact, it is often said that nanny to his children, elizabeth bowser in disguise, was indeed a spy for the union. i'm not sure that she was in the confederate white house, but she definitely had some contact with them.
had some contact with them. she was part of the spies ran by elizabeth van lou. african-american women are critical in this fight for freedom. as guides, scouts, spies and soldiers. but also as those who trained the generation that would fight, that would deliver this strike for freedom. when richmond was captured on april 3, 1865, many of these african-american women that i mentioned with the exception of phyllis wheatley were alive to witness this victory. and i can imagine mariah steward and sojourner truth who were here in washington at the time reading the newspaper. i'd say mariah stewart, i can imagine mariah stewart reading the newspaper to sojourner truth. the "national republican" when on the evening of april 3rd, 1865, it read "extra, glorious
fall of richmond, captured by the black troops." i can just imagine how good they felt. the forecast that this civil war would come and they would be livid and they would let -- that freedom would be achieved in league with the constitution. mariah stewart must have felt pretty good, because the women were preparing this generation for striking this blow for freedom, for becoming the moses of freedom. they had trained them well. but the goal was not only to end the tyranny of slavery, but to gain their rights as citizens. and francis ellen harper would write after the 15th amendment was passed -- now, francis ellen harper had problem with their women, like susan b. anthony
and the suffrage movement because she supported the 14th and 15th amendment arguing that we need to move forward with a voice from our community. african descent folk need a voice and we can't stand by and wait for women to get the voice before we have a voice at all. so if our men have to fight to get the first voice we have to fight to get this first voice. and after the 15th amendment was signed, she was -- was ratified or passed actually, francis ellen harper would write, oh, ransomed race, give god the praise who led thee through the crimson sea. the forecast was at the great house, pharaoh would bring sword against sword. and there would be a parting of a red sea of blood, the crimson sea, with you think the captors would pass to be free. the story of the african-american freedom fighters, men and women in the civil war, is the story of
believers who believed they would be delivered in league with the constitution, and indeed they were. thank you. [ applause ] now, are there any questions? yes? >> you mentioned that john brown you called him captain. i know that several people -- i thought also mary ann chad carrie had supported him, but mary ellen pleasant, or otherwise known as mammy pleasant also provided him some funds. what other -- what role -- other roles did you see for her in this? >> well, first, it's logistical support. and so they provide them logistical support. they're looking to the grander plan. which they ultimately accomplished in league with the constitution.
but as far as the officers and those in higher reasons delaney makes it very clear they're not going to support in the meeting with john brown. that's when john brown calls delaney a coward and delaney says, captain brown does not know the man of whom he speaks. there's no one in whose veins it flows less freely than me and it must not be said by anyone even john brown. with them, they provided logistical support for john brown and john brown had taken that on himself. so you would bring shields green, osborne perry anderson and others. you'd bring them in, they would work with him. but the organization itself like someone like mary ann shedd carey and the same with others like harriet tubman and those in other positions they're in place to do something else in the strategic plan.
>> but what about mary ellen pleasant, though? >> i'm not an expert on what her contribution was. yes? >> is there any evidence of how the spy network got information to each other or to back and forth between union army and -- >> well, we know the past system is in place like let's take lucy carter. how we know about her, she has a pass and they november and out. a lot of the individuals are also masters of disguise. that's one of harriet tubman's keys. she goes behind enemy lines so a lot of it is runners, messengers. messengers that are coming in and some are the individuals who are in fact conducting the work so it's disguises, messengers. you can also accompany
confederates officers when they would go and make -- they might be coming in to do a prisoner exchange and the manservant of one of the confederate officers is actually the spy. and while they're doing the prison exchange he's sharing some information. then he goes back with it. >> so it was a global network? >> yes. it's an oral network. we know that some messages are sent through message on paper. we know that. especially the navy used african-americans in that capacity. we know that. sherman writes about that in receiving messages from david porter from african-americans coming in with them written. so it's oral, it's written. it's really the full gambit of what's used in that day except for the telegraph. how, -- however, delaney would use the telegraph because what could be talking to them and
they were using the telegram. yes. >> this picture of lincoln signing the emancipation and sitting with henry william seward, there's an empty chair behind seward. this past weekend, i visited the gravesite in dorchester county on the eastern shore of maryland of the lady by the name of anna carroll. that is supposed to be her chair. she was supposed to have been a military strategist who went down the tennessee river and helped map out a strategy for taking vicksburg. i learned this weekend by looking at that painting and
also by seeing some letters written by her and by lincoln that that empty chair was her chair. and that she was taken out of the picture because she was a woman. and that they believed that no woman at that time among that cabinet group could have -- should be in a picture of these great men. do you know something about that story? >> i do not, but the person i would go to is carpenter, who drew the one that i used here. and carpenter is with lincoln for six or seven months working on this and trying to capture that moment. and he does write about it. so i'm not familiar with the story but he's the person i would go to first. because he's the one that actually does the drawing. yes? >> thank you so much. >> you're welcome. >> i'm wondering after emancipation, what became of the loyal league?
did it morph into something different? >> it does. it's usually known as the union league when you read it in the literature. because the union leagues there are some people who talk about they're always having these secret meetings and they want to do things. but a lot of the members of the organization also become a part of the league, become a part of other organizations. william howard day becomes a bishop in the a.m.e. zion church. also becomes superintendent of schools in the freedman's bureau schools. then you have abraham galloway, who would become a state senator in north carolina, would mysteriously die, which is real interesting because he kind of just -- after there's an attempted assassination on his life in 1871, he dies. in louisiana you have men like pinchback who would become lieutenant governor. when oscar dunn, another african-american who died in office lieutenant governor, died
in office, pinchback becomes the lieutenant governor and then the governor. and pinchback is an interesting league member, an interesting person to track. because i believe that if you track pinchback, you'll see funding for the league after the war for union league and political aspirations. he would become a self-proclaimed civil rights lawyer when he moved to washington, d.c. in the late 1880s. you have -- you have the women that get involved in the suffrage movement. very much after the 15th amendment in particular. because now they have accomplished that, now their next goal is to get the right goal. mary ann shadd carey becomes one of the most active -- when i say active i mean illegally voting.
she becomes a lawyer as well. she graduates from howard law school and would live at 1421 w street, northwest right here in washington. her house is marked historically. historic site. yes? >> may i thank you again for this. this is really quite extraordinary information. have you pieced this together through all of these various resources and when are you going to turn this into to a book so we can all carry it around and read it? >> yes. one of the things that i struggled with when i was preparing for this lecture was whether i'd have a list of women and say these are the women that were in the civil war or whether i was going to fit them into the larger story. and already they were players in the larger story just in my studies because you can't study the legal league and not run into many of these personalities like a mariah stewart, like mary ann shadd cary, harriet tubman. they are major players. they're not just there. so you can't just mention them as showing up.
these are highly competent and effective people. so you have to deal with them. so i decided in the lecture what i was going to do was deal with them as effective people within an organization that had a plan, and that executed their plan. and i've been researching this for a number of years. i would say i'm getting close. i would probably need to sit down and not have other things on my mind for a while to really put it -- kind of a sabbatical, to put it into a book. i have been working on this -- when i first started working on this, identifying this organization, i was -- it was the early '90s. i was at the advanced artillery officers school in ft. sill, oklahoma. and i did a battle study. i was an artillery officer with secondary m.o.s. as an intelligence officer. so i did a battle study on
m.o.s.m.o -- m.o.s. is military occupational specialty, for those. i did a battle study on vicksburg and when i was doing the battle study on vicksburg, when i looked at the information that african-americans were delivering and even vetting for the union it meant they had an organization. and it was very clear that they had an organization. this information was too good, it was vetted too well to simply be happenstance of a contraband showing up and saying something. no, the particular contraband that showed up, that particular individual knew what he was talking about. that's not a coincidence. so that's where i begin. that was some 20 years ago. and as i've been working here at the museum, i would say often i get good information from people that come in because ultimately the members of this organization have descendants. and their little stories that i piece together by every time
comes in and shares a part of their story i put it in the whole picture. like i do with the women. any story i get i put it into the whole picture. i want to see it, how it works in the whole picture. what part does it play? does that story -- so that's the privilege of working here at the museum. meeting all of these descendants and researchers who have a piece of the story. so i feel like i'm working with a huge jigsaw puzzle. >> so if i could just follow up then, so this story continues obviously. so they don't just go away after emancipation. what they do is they create universities, they create schools. >> that's correct. >> they create churches. >> they become the fraternal orders, yes. >> they become the book clubs, the penny-saving societies. these women then become really, you know, the future of building community. >> yes. yes. this is -- these women and men do exactly that.
correct. in fact, they are -- if you really want to track the building of the african-american people it's with organization. it's not personalities that -- you don't get a great deal accomplished with just a personality. i know that the -- that building this memorial had a lot to do with dr. frank smith's personality. but he'd be the first to tell you he had a lot of good people working for him. >> absolutely. so you've got to take off and write this book, my friend. >> after the sesquicentennial. a question? >> yes. i'm curious how many of the descendants met each other. and had a network in any way. are any of those descendants figures or active -- has that activism been passed down? >> you know, no, i don't know of any that i would call a public figure.
in canada, mary ann shadd's descendants are very active. they actually run a museum to help tell the story. >> i've been there. >> okay. yes? >> i just -- what was the name of the camp that you said was on vermont avenue? >> camp barker. camp barker. >> thank you. >> what do you know about camp frye over on 23rd street at washington circle where g.w. is today? >> i'm not well informed of that. >> what was the camp there? >> i recently got a wonderful map from the library of congress that has all the camps and forts in d.c. and soon i'm going to take that and put it on a -- over a map overlay and try to figure out where they are. and then try to go and get something on them from the official records. the best records any time you're trying to figure out what's going nona camp is quartermaster reports. anything that the camp needs
comes from the quartermaster. those are the best records. if you want to find out more about it, i do recommend quartermaster reports. and even when it comes to the "contraband camps," the freedman's village, most of the records were turned over to the freedman's bureau. however, you can still find some that are in quartermaster reports. so you have to look at quartermaster reports as well as freedman bureau records when you're researching these camps. >> i've been doing the research on black foggy bottom. so when you look at camp frye, a lot of these -- a lot of the letters and evidence that we have is that foggy bottom was majority black from 1870 to 1970 is because many african-americans lived -- were at camp frye. >> okay. >> whether they were contrabands or workers or enslaved persons i don't know. but i'm trying to figure that out. so there's no mystery that in fact out of foggy bottom out of
black community. >> after july 17th, 1862, they're all freed persons. >> right. >> or free before that. but what we -- i'm going to say you look at is, again, quartermaster reports and who's getting hired out of that community. because i will be willing to -- i will stake a lot on it to say that the camp is really a camp for people being employed in certain industries supporting the government in the war effort. and there are some records on that. >> so the nurses who are contracted, were they mainly contracted through the quartermasters? >> no, mostly contracted through the sanitary commission. which would come through quarter -- so yes, it's the quartermaster. the quartermaster through sanitary commission. yes? >> do we know like is there a rough estimate of how many women actually like disguised
themselves as soldiers or is that too hard to say? >> yeah, we don't have a number. we don't have a number. interestingly enough, they almost keep turning up. we have had some european american women that applied for pensions and we get a lot of details on them, just like anna stokes the african-american woman in the navy that applied. but she was legally in, so she had no problems getting her pension actually. but the actual number, no, i would love to see some research. also i'd like to see the model. how you would come about researching that. i would love to see how you do that i would want to work with somebody who wants to do that. >> what was the question? >> how many women actually disguised themselves as men and fought. >> so may i ask, some of these -- the raw resources like the diaries, some of the things that you mentioned, are they at ho?